"We're fulfilling the vision of our company and the vision for Macau of being a true holiday destination for this entire region," says Michael Mecca, President and COO of Galaxy Entertainment Group, which launched the only mega casino resort, Galaxy Macau, in the territory this year.
While it will take months to see if the $2 billion complex will indeed become a holiday destination, it still marks a major shift in Galaxy's philosophy and business model. The company's Starworld casino in the older Macau peninsula section caters mainly to the high roller VIP market.
Galaxy Macau, in contrast, boasts over 2,000 hotel rooms, more then four dozen restaurants and bars, and even features a rooftop man-made beach complete with artificial waves, all amid 350 tons of white sand purposely trucked in to complete the fake tropical feel.
Galaxy is trying to capture a big part of the growing mass market, made up mostly of day trippers and short stayers from nearby Hong Kong and parts of Southern China.
The VIP market is costly to companies like Galaxy. In return for bringing in well-heeled punters to their high-end rooms, they have to fork out as much as 40 percent of revenues as commissions to these so-called junket operators, with another 40 percent going to the Macau government in gaming taxes, meaning relatively lean profit margins compared to the cash-based, non-commissioned mass market.
Galaxy Macau is only the third mega project to land on the Cotai Strip area, which seeks to replicate the famed Las Vegas Strip. But Mecca says it's not a situation where new players are cannibalizing the incumbents. He thinks the new digs will be complimentary to nearby casinos and resorts. "I believe there are still great growth opportunities well into the future."
In the meantime, Galaxy is bankrolling high hopes of attracting the family tourism dollar. If the fine accommodations, the dozens of places to wine and dine, and the fake tropical experience don't do the trick, maybe showbiz will. A nine-screen 3D cineplex is scheduled to open later this year.